May 2012 - Susman
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Can Insurance Have a “Cool” Factor?

Cool = Smoothly Effective

Mariano Rivera is cool. He was — and will be again — smoothly effective as he routinely took the bump and tossed about three cutters pass the players trying to hit the dancing baseball. Richard Petty is cool. Putting the pedal to the medal in his cowboy boots no less, The King won a record 200 races during his career, including seven NASCAR championships. Michael Jordan is cool. He not only wears undershirts that don’t pucker, this six-time NBA champion began winning accolades first as an Olympic gold medalist in 1984, Rookie of the Year in 1985 and never seemed to stop winning for over a decade. These sports legends are cool because they are, or were, smoothly effective.

So, when we ask the question, “Can insurance have a cool factor?” we aren’t passing judgment on an insurance agent’s choice of a tie, a claims adjustor’s telephone whiney voice, the humor in their television commercials or even an insurance company’s hired celebrity spokesmen or cartoon. No, our question has to do more with the extent to which an insurance company can lend us an air of being smoothly effective, of “cool.” Being adequately insured doesn’t mean you’re a nerd, a pessimist or paranoid. It means simply that in the event of a loss, your property will be replaced: you will be cool.

So-Cal Cool Examples

Since the rest of the United States has been convinced that TV characters are as real as celebrities and live among you in Southern California, let’s examine a few examples:

  • The Fonz

Depending upon the year and episode of Happy Days, The Fonz rode a variety of expensive custom motorcycles, including a Triumph Bonneville with customized handlebars. Episodes of Happy Days may not have shown Fonzie writing out a monthly check for motorcycle insurance, but you can be sure he must have. How else would he have been able to protect his image? Somehow, The Fonz pedaling up the Cunningham’s driveway on a Schwinn bicycle just doesn’t have the same panache.

  • Sonny Crockett

Miami Vice wouldn’t have been the 80’s show without Don Johnson tooling around south Florida in a midnight black Ferrari Daytona Spyder. It’s a good thing the show’s writers were wise enough to make the Ferrari the property of the Miami police department on loan to his undercover character and not Crockett’s personal automobile. Monthly car insurance payments on a Ferrari would have taken a healthy chunk out of a police detective’s take-home salary. But the car helped make the show. Somehow, Crockett and Tubbs in a VW convertible bug doesn’t make me believe the series would have made it through its first season.

  • 007

Bond, James Bond, drove — and wrecked — so many exotic cars that I’m not sure he could have qualified for SR-22 coverage. The cars and their policies were probably purchased in Miss Moneypenny”s name. He was, nonetheless, as smoothly effective as a man can be and was never without premium transportation.

You don’t have to be a celebrity, a super athlete or any of these cool characters to be “cool.” If you’ve worked with your insurance agent to adequately protect your property, you too can be cool.

Karl Susman, Cool Insurance Agent

How important is your small business?

Dale’s small business was very important to him.  He felt a responsibility to his employees and to his family.  He found a way for Life insurance to protect and provide for them all.  Take three minutes to watch and see how.

Protect your business with life insurance

We work hard to start a small business.  Remember to take the simple step to be sure your hard work continues to pay for generations to come. We can show you how with Life insurance.

Karl Susman, Agent

Is My Computer Covered By My Homeowner’s Insurance?

The required response to this question in order to obtain a license to sell insurance in most US states is, “Maybe.” The second required insurance agent phrase now follows. “It depends…”

I can, however, give you one absolute answer hardly tarnished by any hint of equivocation. And that is “No! Your computer will not be covered by your homeowners’ insurance when you find those pictures of your husband’s ex-girlfriend in that unmarked folder and opt to toss the entire system through the second-story window of your shared study. (The window probably won’t be covered either). Your computer also won’t be covered if it floats in a flood or if an errant piece of Sputnik targets it as it sits on your desk, either.

You might have a claim, though; had you reported that your neighbor’s dog attacked the system.

Here’s when the “insurance speak” begins. It depends. It depends on your coverage, how your computer is damaged or missing, how old the computer is, how much it cost, maybe how much it would cost to replace, whether your policy contains a replacement cost endorsement, who wrote your policy and how much of a deductible you chose when you purchased your policy.

But you aren’t the first person to ask this question. Indeed, according to a May 22nd report 2012 for 2011 claims, Enservio, reported that electronics comprised the second most expensive contents-loss category with a 13 percent Replacement Cost Value (RCV) as determined by the dollar value percent of total claims. Approximately 65 percent of the electronic claims were for loss by theft and claims including this category rose by 15 percent last year. Way back in 2002, when personal computers weighed as much as Vintage VW Bugs, thieves stole over half-a-million computers. The main concern with desktop computers now is identity theft, not theft of the plastic housing. With the advent of portable laptops, the number lost or stolen is so huge isn’t even estimated.

Here are the nuts and bolts: if your computer is covered, it is probably only covered to a limit of perhaps $1,500. This is adequate for most of us. If it requires more than this, you should probably speak to your agent to determine if additional coverage is necessary. Also, unless you purchased a replacement cost endorsement, your claims adjustor will deduct the use and wear of however many years ago you purchased the laptop or desktop. Assuming you bought a scaled down MacBook Pro laptop three years ago, your computer might be currently valued at $500 — not even counting the software updates. But there’s one more thing: you chose that $500 deductible way back when you first purchased your policy. You know, so you could save money. So, your insurance company owes you $0.

Before you throw your arms up and say, “See? Nothing is ever covered!” consider an alternative. For less than a cup of coffee a day, you might have purchased a replacement cost endorsement back when you bought the policy. Depending upon the company and your claims history, you might have purchased a smaller deductible too. If the lowest model MacBook Pro is now $2000 and you purchased a replacement cost endorsement with a $250 deductible, you now get a replacement laptop valued at two grand for the cost of your deductible.

Finally, consider this alternative: call you agent now to find out these details. Don’t wait until a thief makes the call necessary.

Cash was there for Michael and his family

Michael was a great father.  One day when he was diagnosed with brain cancer, he realized the true value of the universal life insurance policy he had purchased.  The life insurance proceeds were there to help his family maintain the standard living they had.  The insurance was even there to help one of his children through rehab.  Take four minutes to watch and see.

Life insurance was there when needed

Life insurance is there, it is the gift that can keep giving even when you are no longer able to.

Karl Susman, Agent

Who Needs Disability Insurance?

Any insurance policy is designed to protect the policy owner from suffering financial loss when their life is changed by a disastrous event. But what happens when life is changed because of an injury or illness and you have to stop working in order to recover? The answer is without a disability insurance policy the injured will lose money and will not be able to pay their bills.

Disability insurance is a product that is designed to protect people from life changing disasters and financial destruction. If you end up getting hurt or sick and can’t work,  you will end up with some pretty serious medical bills and a loss of income. The person who got hurt may feel that the source of the injury should be the one who pays for their injuries. While that may be true that the responsible party should care for the expenses of the injury the truth is it will take a long time for the issue to be settled in court. While you are waiting for the settlement your bills will continue to pile up. If you had purchased a disability insurance policy, you would have an income to meet the expenses of everyday life.

The benefits of a disability policy are fairly simple.

  • The protection that it gives to the policy owner is priceless. The policy helps by keeping the standard of living close to what it was before the injury. It pays wages that would otherwise be lost because of lost hours..
  • The money the policy pays is allowed to be used for the expenses of everyday life. It can be used to pay for food, overdue bills or any other expense that you may have.
  • Depending on the policy it can also cover rehabilitation needs of the injured.
  • The coverage amounts can continue as long as the individual is still under medical care. The coverage usually ends when the policy owner can return to work or is released by the doctor.
  • The policy pays for the medical bills of the injured. It will pay for all the scans and test that are needed to help the person get well.

This type of policy should also be purchased by anybody who works and has the potential to get injured or ill, which is, well everybody!  No one should lose their income and way of life because of an injury or serious illness.  Talk to one of our agents today.

Karl Susman, Susman Insurance Agency

Driving While Texting: States Are Creating Bans To Safeguard Drivers

As you are driving down the freeway at 80mph to get to work, your cell phone buzzes to let you know that you just received an email. You snatch up the phone with one hand while the other holds the steering wheel, as you read and laugh over the satirical digital newsletter about the world’s dumbest drivers.

As you swerve to miss a loading van, you decide to send a text message about the email to your friend at the office. With both hands typing on the tiny keyboard on your cell phone, you rely on your knee on the steering wheel (and your cousin Billy Bob’s mechanical genius on repairing cars) to guide your high speeding vehicle down the road.

The irony should be obvious. Driving while all your attention is focused on typing out a text to a friend you are going to see in the next 20 minutes at work is dangerous. Both hands are off the steering wheel, you are traveling at high speeds, and your eyes and attention are split between typing out the text and staying in your traffic lane. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 3,092 people were killed in vehicle crashes in 2010 that had involved a distracted driver and 416,000 people were injured in vehicle accidents caused by a distracted driver. In addition, text messaging while you are distracted creates a 23-times greater risk in causing a serious crash than a driver who is paying attention to the road.

Individual States Take Action To Ban Texting While Driving

When people hear statistics like this, some will start shaking their heads and proclaiming to the sky that they are an excellent driver who can multitask. But why would you multitask while driving several tons of moving metal down the road at dangerous speeds? Why would you risk your safety, the safety of your passengers, the safety of other drivers, and the safety of pedestrians all because you can’t wait to park your car and turn it off before sending a text message?

With the growing concerns of distracted drivers causing serious accidents while texting, the government has stepped in to introduce bills to address this dangerous problem. In 2009, the Distracted Driving Prevention Act and the ALERT Drivers Act encourages states to take action in creating laws about drivers and texting, according to Consumer Reports. While one government act gives financial incentives to states who create texting bans, the other act takes away state funding for highway services in an attempt to force states to become proactive towards the problem.

As stated by The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, text messaging has been banned in 38 states, including California, for all drivers. Only 5 states ban texting for drivers under the age of 21 or for novice drivers who only have their learner’s permit. The states that have not created a ban are Arizona, Florida, Montana, South Dakota, Ohio, and South Carolina.

Keep Your Teens Safe Behind The Wheel

Even if you decide to practice highway safety, your teen drivers might still feel the itch of placing their typing fingers on the phone’s keyboard while driving. As the Federal Communications Commission stresses, parents need to talk with their children about driving safely. Discuss how important their lives are and that no message is important enough to become distracted while behind the steering wheel.

Also, lead by example yourself and show your kids at an early age that you can keep your hands off the cell phone while driving.

Track your health insurance

It is so hard to keep track of all of my health insurance bills, and options, what I have used, what my deductible IS, what I’ve filled and what I haven’t. I actually found a good way to do it, check out this video on a new free service called Simplee. I’m going to try it. It works with Aetna, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) Blue Shield, Cigna, Dental Dental, Medica, MetLife, United Healthcare, Vision Service Place, VSP, WellPoint, Inc. (Empire BCBS) Here is a video and a link:

What do you think? Tell me below.

Dominique

Can life insurance finance a new business?

Take four minutes to watch Debbie’s story.  In this story, you will see how Bob, a caring husband found a way to protect his family while saving to start a new business.

Bob protected his family while saving to start a new business

A little bit of planning went a long long way.

Karl Susman, Agent

Is it Earthquake Weather?

How would you like to wake up to Mike Tyson – specifically, the scary, ear-biting, late-1980s-to-mid-1990s Mike Tyson — punching the wall of your house? On the morning of April 23, 2012, that’s exactly what woke Los Angeles resident Kevin Vandever. Except the shaking Vandever felt wasn’t Tyson’s legendary fists: It was a 3.9 earthquake.

Whether you live in Los Angeles, Brentwood or Santa Monica, you’ve probably experienced a few earthquakes. In fact, it’s always “earthquake weather” here in SoCal; written history of earthquakes in the region stretches back to 1769, when an expedition about 30 miles from L.A. felt four strong shocks. Forty-three years later, four people were killed when a quake demolished a church at San Juan Capistrano, and an 1857 quake in Fort Tejon was an incredible magnitude 7.9 — and was felt all the way to Las Vegas!

Over the next half-century, earthquakes killed almost 50 people and destroyed hundreds of buildings across California. The Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake killed at least 700 people, opened a 296-mile rupture in the San Andreas Fault, and caused more than $500 million in damage. And, of course, L.A.’s 6.7-magnitude Northridge Earthquake killed 57, injured more than 800, and displaced 20,000 residents, causing $20 billion in damage.

From 1769 to today, more than 200 earthquakes have rocked SoCal – and that’s just counting magnitude 5.2 and higher.

That’s a lot of shaking and quaking and it’s all centered around one area: The California-Nevada Fault and its many offshoots, some of which run right through L.A.

Sounds a lot scarier than Mike Tyson, right? When you build a major metropolitan area along a huge fault line that’s constantly shifting, quake damage is bound to be a concern. Given Southern California’s long, earthquake-filled history, it’s no surprise that high-tech study after high-tech study confirms what many seismologists have long predicted: The Los Angeles area is long overdue for a massive earthquake.

Scientists have found that major earthquakes occur every 88 years or so. It’s been about 150 years since the last monster quake hit, making the probability of a large quake extremely likely. Even worse, predictions indicate that this quake may be as strong as 8.1 on the Richter Scale — with the potential to release more than 100 times the energy as the Northridge quake! Recent concerns about fracking in L.A. have intensified fears of a major quake.

As if that isn’t terrifying enough, scientists project that an earthquake that large could cause between 2,000 and 50,000 deaths and billions of dollars in damage in L.A., Anaheim and San Diego.

How can residents prepare themselves? Experts recommend building up stores of food, water and supplies, establishing an emergency plan, and safeguarding possessions in advance. In addition, earthquake insurance protects your family from loss, helping you to get back on your feet after the disaster is over.  Get the hint, talk to one of our licensed agents about Earthquake Insurance today.

So the next time you wake up to shaking walls, cross your fingers and hope that it’s just Mike Tyson!

Karl Susman, Agent

3 Uplifting Stories About Insurance Agents

Teen Driver Behind The Wheel? An Insurance Agent Tells You Why Full Car Insurance Is Essential

I suppose it happens to every parent. Their teen becomes old enough to drive. Yikes! The moment I saw her jump behind the wheel of our vehicle and back into the house planter while scaring the dog biscuits out of Miss Daisy, the neighbor’s pet Doberman, I knew it was time to get in touch with my insurance agent.

I wanted to make sure we had the most comprehensive auto insurance to protect my family and other drivers on the road in our Brentwood, Southern California, neighborhood. Our agent is great. Not only did he make sure we had collision and liability insurance, but he explained how important it was to have uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage insurance. I never even heard of this coverage before.

According to the California Department of Insurance, uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage coverage protects my family when injured and my vehicle when damaged by a driver who doesn’t have insurance.

The next time my daughter asks for the car keys to meet her friends at Topanga State Park, I won’t hesitate to let her go. Thanks to my insurance agent, I am more at ease when my daughter gets into the driver’s seat.

An Insurance Agent Who Treats New Homeowners With Respect

I am now a homeowner of a small bungalow in Brentwood Glen. I’ve been doing the happy dance for the past six days as I moved my things from my cold, wet New England home and rode out to sunny California. As I sashayed my boxes up to the house, I almost did a head-slap moment. Or rather, a dead branch from the juniper tree bounced off my roof shingles and hit the grass only feet away, causing little damage to my new home.

Homeowner’s insurance. I forgot to get homeowner’s insurance.

Yeah, it wasn’t the brightest moment in my life. I definitely felt like putting on my “I’m with Stupid” tee shirt with the arrow pointing up at me. But at least I figured it out before something serious happened to my home. Being new to California, I wanted to make sure I had the right residential insurance, as stated by the California Department of Insurance. The agent I found explained the entire policy to me while indicating what would be best to get, such as earthquake coverage, which I never had to deal with for my New England home. Despite my boneheaded moments, the insurance agent treated me with respect and understanding. I am so glad to have met him.

My Superhero Insurance Agent Saved The Day

I feel like marrying my insurance agent. At the very least, I want to make her a superhero costume with large “IA” letters stenciled on the front, because she sure saved the day for me.

My ex-spouse didn’t inform me when she canceled the insurance policy on my car. I received a suspension notice from the California Department of Motor Vehicles about how they didn’t receive a replacement policy in the specified 45-day period, as explained on the California Department of Motor Vehicles website.

I contacted my insurance agent immediately and explained the situation. She worked fast to get everything squared away with my insurance policy and make sure I submitted the right reinstatement forms and fees so that I won’t be driving illegally. Now, I have my up-to-date vehicle registration with the required insurance policy.

I’ll never leave my superhero agent. Boy, they are really there at all hours when you need them.

Stories like these are the stories that we strive for at Susman Insurance Agency.  Let us earn your business and become your superhero!

Karl Susman